Friday, August 17, 2007

Garden memories

A number of the Blogs I read on a regular basis have been talking about gardening, fresh vegetables, and canning. Reading these brought back memories of the gardens my parents had when I was young and still at home.

I think my earliest memory of canning involves the time my mother's pressure canner blew up. At the time we were living in Terra Ceia North Carolina. If I remember correctly, my mother had just walked through the kitchen to check on the canner and then came outside to check on us kids. That is when the canner blew up. There was glass and green beans all over the kitchen and the lid had created a hole in the ceiling. That was the last time my mother ever used a pressure canner. After that everything was canned using a water bath method. I don't remember a garden in NC, so I am not certain where the beans came from.

When we moved to Allison Iowa I remember hiding at the bottom of the garden on the first day of school. It was a new school because we had just moved from NC and I didn't want to go and be the new kid at school. I remember Dad planted asparagus at the end of the garden. Dad said that it would take about three years before the asparagus started coming in well enough that we could pick it. We never got to pick much of it because we moved to western Kansas about three years after arriving in Allison Iowa. However, we did get some asparagus because I have a nice scar on my finger where I cut myself once when picking asparagus. I don't remember Dad ever planting asparagus in any of his other gardens. I think he thought he wouldn't be there long enough to reap the bounty. The funny thing is that my parents lived at least 10 year in three of the four places after Kansas.

It is in Kansas that I remember most of the Dad's gardens and Mom's canning. In Kansas Dad planted two gardens. I have six brothers and sisters and my Dad didn't have a large paycheck. So we had two large gardens. Oh the fun of those cold winter days looking at the seed catalogs. Dreaming about the flowers and vegetables we would be planting. Dad would have tables of seedlings starting under grow lights in the basement. Then he would harden the seedlings by placing them outside during the day and putting them in the garage during the cool nights. Finally he would start planting them. I seem to remember the tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and potatoes always were in the garden in the back yard. The beans, corn, squash, cucumbers, and okra always seemed to end up in the garden that was in the neighbors' field.

Once the garden started to produce us older kids would pick what seemed to be bushels and bushels of vegetables. We would sit and snap beans until we never wanted to see another bean in our entire life. Then my mother would can quarts and quarts of beans. The same would be true with the tomatoes. We would have to help peal the skin from the tomato. I seem to remember red fingers and finger nails. The picture of Mom standing in a HOT Kansas kitchen canning all those vegetables. Oh the smells that the canning filled the house with. The smell of hot bean or tomatoes canning, or the sweet smell of pickles.

I have memories of picking tomatoes only to find that the bottom half was rotten. Or how scratchy the Okra was when you picked it. Also how hot and buggy it seemed when we had to pick the sweet corn and thinking how happy I was going to be to get away from all this. I have many more memories of those gardens, but I think you get the idea.


Blogger Britt-Arnhild said...

Sweet memories.
I am out every day now to pick greens, fruits and berries :-)

Friday, August 17, 2007 at 9:56:00 AM PDT  
Blogger smilnsigh said...

Wondering if a pressure canner is like a pressure cooker? I don't remember my mother doing her canning with a pressure thing. But I do remember the pressure cooker and I was afraid of it. But I never experienced what you did.... with the cooker exploding! Wow!

I never canned a thing in my married life, because of remembering the canning in the sooo hot kitchen of my childhood. Whimp I am! Lol.

And I also remember an ollllld cupboard down in the cellar of the home I grew up in. Now this cellar was not like today's cellars. Or yesterday's. It had a dirt floor and was... well, it was rustic for sure. And dark. And this cupboard was way over in a corner.

It hadn't really been used for years, but it still had old canned fruits etc. in it. No, we never ate any! And I don't know why they stayed there either. Just one of those "mysteries" one remembers, from growing up. :-)


Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 7:14:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Me said...

You know my parents canned. They still do. But when we were young Mom canned so much - tomatoes, spaghetti, hot sauce, green beans, pears, apricots, peaches, pickles, and old hens. We froze corn, cherries, broccoli, and of course chickens. The amount of food Mom preserved was monumental.

We had lots of good fresh food - eggs, goat's milk, etc.

We may not have had a lot of money but we ate very well!

Sunday, August 19, 2007 at 8:07:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's bittersweet, to remember things one can't do anymore. You've preserved the memories by writing about them so beautifully. Like Mari-Nanci's Mom, my Mom had a pressure cooker, too. I didn't get too close to it! It had some valve-type thingy on top and I was sure it was going to blow up every time she used it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 11:30:00 AM PDT  

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